Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pilgrims' Progress, continuing



So far this week, we've discussed having the attitude of pilgrims (travelers here on earth), and also that there is a battle to keep fighting against sin.
Today we are going to look back at our verses and see that we have a responsibility to maintain "good behavior." Let's refresh our memories:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:11-12)
In several translations, words are used like this: "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles." Once again, we need to make sure that we are understanding what Peter meant when he chose that word....."behavior" in this instance (and in others in I and II Peter!) means our conduct, or way of life. People today might call it our "lifestyle."  I guess what we want to focus on is the overall flavor of our lives. The words "excellent" or "good" means good in the sense of beautiful, or even appealing to others who view our lives. We need to make sure that our lives are examples of the actions and deeds that conform to the Word and will of God..... and also that they are examples of what a godless culture can see as attractive. If the world looks at our lives, they should have to admit (even if it is grudgingly!) that we are good folks.

The word that Peter uses in verse 12 can be translated "see" and "observe" in other places. It carries the meaning of long-term, thoughtful observation. We must remember that even when we are not aware of it, unbelievers are watching our lives. They see how we react to things at work. They notice how we interact with others, and then how we talk about them later. They look at how we deal with problems. They observe how we treat our families.

Peter called them "pagans" but today, aren't we surrounded by unbelievers? When we react to bad driving habits in others, who sees us rant and rave? When we are rude in the grocery store or department store, who watches? When we speak of church members disparagingly, who is listening? Who observes our interactions with family and takes away an opinion of our faith?

I'm reminded of the story of Grace Aylward, and other missionaries, too, who said that natives would stand at their open windows and doors and watch their day-to-day activities. They watch everything. The "natives" who watch our daily lives may not be as obvious, but they are watching us as aliens and strangers. Pilgrims here for a short while.

Now, Peter isn't telling us that our good deeds and exemplary behavior will result in immediate conversions of unbelievers! In fact, they may slander us, because they are jealous, or insecure. Our behavior may make them feel guilty, so they may talk badly about us, or try to get us to "loosen up" and be like them. Think about the early church -- they were accused of murder, incest and cannibalism. Seriously! After all, they met secretly (to avoid persecution) and said they ate someone's flesh and drank blood.....they called each other brother and sister and were affectionate toward each other....
Our friend Paul wrote about how we should behave, too:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6)
Peter notes, as Paul did, that a lifestyle of attractive deeds, even in the face of slander, hatred, and persecution from the lost, will result in glory to God.

I enjoy reading a good bit, and try to pay attention to those who maintain a Christian world-view in the face of opposition. Cal Thomas is one of the committed Christians that I enjoy, and I would encourage you to click on this link for one of his contributions to an e-magazine called "Tabletalk."

In 1991, Cal Thomas wrote:
I got a letter from an editor of a newspaper that recently started carrying my column. He said, “I’m so frustrated because I’m the only believer on the entire editorial staff.” I wrote back and said, “Let’s say that you weren’t on the newspaper staff but that you were a CIA plant in the politburo of the Soviet Union. Would you be complaining that you were the only one there? You would be rejoicing that your government had placed you in such a strategic position.” That is the attitude we ought to have. God has placed us in strategic positions no matter what our job is, whether we are employed or not. If we can catch that vision, if we can see ourselves as the spiritual equivalent of CIA plants and the world as the politburo, then I think we can get on fire for God and really do something significant.
So, as pilgrims here on earth, we should try to maintain a lifestyle of good works and good words, even when we are treated badly by the lost.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pilgrims' Progress, continued


Today's concept from Peter is a little different from the photo above....that picture brings to mind a vacation trip. The idea that we are travelers for fun. Well, we truly can enjoy the trip, and the joy of the Lord, but today we're going to talk again about living as pilgrims.....

.....and the fact that there is a war to fight.
Yep.
You heard me correctly! W - A - R .  Let's look at our verses again, OK?
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:11-12)
(Raising hand) Grammar nerd, here, calling our attention to the word "abstain." It means "to hold oneself constantly back from." We hear the word used pretty casually nowadays....legislators abstain from votes, people abstain from coffee for a day or two, and other things like that. In contrast, Peter used it in the sense of an ongoing, constant battle.
His words about waging war point to a military campaign.....those can be long and drawn out.....not just to a single battle.  As believers, we face a lifelong struggle against sinful desires; we fight fleshly lusts which if given in to, can take us captive and destroy us. I think that's what he means by war against our souls.
The total person.
The word soul makes us focus on the inner person, and if we are honest about it, the battle against sin is really waged in the mind. Remember in chapter one?
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; (I Peter 1:13-15)
The trick is to win the war against sin in our thought life; then we will win in our behavior. All sin starts in the mind and so we must defeat it there.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:4)
OK, so what does he mean by sinful desires? Some translations say "fleshly lusts."  Well, they include wrong sexual desires, but that isn't all.... also included are truly self-seeking desires, whether they are wishes for wealth, for power, or for pleasure.  We've touched on this before: me, me, me!! And then me, again! It's all about me! Unbelievers are ignorant of God and His Word, and they live for self. Everything they do is directed to promote themselves, or to please themselves, or to protect themselves. Many times even when they are doing something which appears nice on the surface, they are doing it for selfish reasons!! Unbelievers shrug off God. "What's that to me?" they say. They even mock God and His followers.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (II Peter 3:3-4)
They think they are free; they can do anything they want; no chains on them! But in reality, they are enslaved by their sins and selfish desires. Believers, on the other hand, can live for the will of God, which is directly the opposite of the lusts and desires of human beings:
As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  (I Peter 4:2)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:15-17)
Let's make sure that we understand one thing that Peter is saying here: he is talking to believers. Becoming a Christian does not eradicate the strong, emotional tug toward the "me, me" mentality, and toward sin. Walking with God for years and years doesn't mean that there is no longer a need to do battle!
Many of the folks whom we consider giants of God fell into sin after years of walking with Him. Noah got drunk and was indecently exposed after showing great faith and obedience to God. David, the man after God's own heart, was perhaps in his early fifties when he fell into sin. Elijah's faith wavered after years of courageous service to God, proclaiming His Word to Ahab and Jezebel. And Hezekiah, a godly king who reformed much of his people's lives, fell into the sin of pride fairly late in life.  As long as we are breathing in this body, we need to be careful; we must be vigilant and fight the war against these desires to go our own way, and sin against our Savior.

We are able and responsible to obey this command and abstain from these fleshly desires. They are powerful; God is more powerful. Through saving faith in Jesus and through the daily indwelling of the Spirit and the Word, we can be victorious in this war!

We are pilgrims here on earth.....we must cultivate the mindset of loving heaven more and looking forward to it, and we must be vigilant in the war against sin.

We'll learn more from Peter tomorrow!


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What are we listening to?

I hope in your prayer time today you will listen to this song....it blessed me as I prepared this study, and I hope it is meaningful to you, too.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Pilgrims' Progress



What image pops into your mind when you hear the word "pilgrims"?  Do you think of the folks who came over on the Mayflower ship in 1620? Do you visualize them gathered around their Thanksgiving feast with the natives who assisted them in their quest for new homes and religious freedom?

Do you visualize the scenes from the old book, Pilgrim's Progress? It's the second best-selling book of all time.....second only to the Bible. But do many people read it nowadays?
This week we will study the pilgrim life.... the concept that we are just passing through this life, and journeying toward heaven. We've talked about it before, but we will do a deeper dive this time, because Peter does, in our verses:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:11-12)
The old saying, "It's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there," comes to mind....we are only in this world for a short time. Are we too interested in putting down roots? It's perfectly natural for us to think about the present....our marriages, raising our kids, succeeding in our chosen careers, overcoming personal problems, etc.  And heaven is a really nice perk at the end of the ride -- but it's not our focus. We naturally want to enjoy life and cling to it as long as we are able. But as believers, I think we should view death not as an ending, but as the gateway to everything we have been living for! We're pilgrims!
Here's another verse to cogitate on as we begin this week's study:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (I Corinthians 15:19)
I truly believe that we should enjoy God and the blessings that He freely bestows on us in this life. No long faces here! But if we don't hold the things of this life fairly loosely in our hands, and if we aren't focused on God and on being in heaven with Him as our ultimate goal.... my, what a shallow faith we have!  If we're just living for the good life, how can we expect to endure persecution? How can we withstand temptation? The only thing that can steel us to endure suffering and to seek holiness in the midst of the wickedness of this world is to live as pilgrims -- we are bound for heaven!

What does Peter have for us here? Surely he has written something to help us.....
I think first, Peter would want us to have our minds in the right place: to adopt a certain attitude that will help us. He says, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers..."(AMP). Here's our mindset: we are beloved by God, and we are strangers here on this earth.
Here is something extra that we might not usually consider: the earth is under the dominion of Satan, so we are not only foreigners, we are on "enemy turf"!! Let us not forget that!
What a precious truth, that we are beloved by God. The whole reason that we are out of "sync" with the world is that we are the objects of God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ. His love is unfathomable; Paul even calls it indescribable. The fact that God loved me enough to send His precious Son to die for my sins should motivate me to endure anything for the few years I'm here!
And it really is just a few years, ya know? (Grin)

If we were to travel to a foreign country, we wouldn't live according to the customs and standards there. Well, to avoid offending the natives we might temporarily adopt some of their customs, but it's just short-term. If one is traveling in China for business, one must carefully examine a client's business card and seem impressed -- not just slip it in a notebook or a pocket and keep chatting. Or if one is at dinner and needs a toothpick, it should be concealed in the fingers and palm. But when back home, we revert to our routine ways and customs. Now, as citizens of heaven, we may adopt some of the earthly ways, as long as they are not contradictory to God's ways. But most of the time we are living by completely different standards, found in His Word.

Travelers don't get super-attached to the country they are passing through, either. They have a destination in mind, and they know how long they'll be "on the road." They are looking forward to getting to their destination. If they pass through a wonderfully scenic area, they will take a few photos and enjoy the beauty, but they won't move there permanently. If they find a nice hotel, they will spend a few nights there, but they don't start rearranging the furniture and hanging family photos on the walls.

I wonder if the amazing advancements in modern medicine have shifted our focus from being aliens? The wonderful medical treatments that are available today help us to recover from injuries and illnesses.....but perhaps the reality of death is not as close to us as it was to people in earlier centuries. It was not uncommon in the 1600s and 1700s to have lost the majority of one's children very early in their lives, or to lose a spouse at a young age, compared to today.
I'm not trying to be morbid, but I think it fits with our truths here....we are aliens and strangers here on earth, and we are headed toward heaven. Perhaps our attitude should reflect that more than it does....we won't be here long, since our home is in heaven.
Are we living like it?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Honored and privileged, conclusion


When we began this study, I was not truly appreciating the honors and privileges that we as believers enjoy! What a difference a week makes!
We will conclude our study today -- still more here in this passage, from the Spirit, so hang on tight!
I'd like to remind all of us of our focus passage.... this time I will post the ESV translation, just to give us another view of the words. (Many times it is helpful to check other translations when studying a passage.)
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,    a cornerstone chosen and precious,and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected    has become the cornerstone,”and“A stone of stumbling,    and a rock of offense.” (I Peter 2:5-8a)
Another privilege we will have (in the future) is sharing in Christ's honor, and also that we will "never be put to shame." As pilgrims in this world, we haven't reached home yet. There will be times when we are mocked and even persecuted for our faith. This promise doesn't say that we won't experience trials, mocking, or persecution. Instead, it promises that we will never ultimately be put to shame. God will use everything that we go through for our ultimate good.  And when Christ comes, we will be honored before all; we will share in His glory.
If you are like me, you can identify with this story I found in an older sermon book:
An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they felt defeated, discouraged, and afraid.
As the trip began, they discovered they were on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.
No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, “Something is wrong.”
“Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.”
“Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way,” his wife said.
He replied “I can’t help it; it just doesn’t seem right.”
When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President’s arrival. No one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship, disappeared in the crowd, and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.
That night the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, “I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly.” His wife replied, “Why don’t you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?”
A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?”
The Lord settled it with me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said; “You’re not home yet.”
(Author Unknown)
While we are here on earth, we may suffer for our faith, but we will never ultimately, in the end, suffer shame. We will be honored when we get home to heaven! Look at this from our old friend, Paul:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:18-19)
Eager anticipation.....like kiddos on tiptoe, peeking over the stairs to see if Santa has arrived....like your pup dancing around when you first get home....expectant! What a picture for us, and for the suffering Christians that Peter was writing to. They were (and we may be) mocked, hated without cause, and more, but when we put our faith in Christ we can look forward to sharing the glory of Christ in heaven.

I'd like to pause here to give y'all time to check out these Old Testament references, that Peter used. I think they will help us understand more fully what he was saying to the believers:
Isaiah 28:16
Psalm 118:22-23
Isaiah 8:14a
What about those who don't believe?
Peter is using the symbolism of an ancient building site, something that his readers would have understood. Often the rocks were brought in from the quarry with no indication of the needed size or shape. The builders would look at each rock, and if the dimensions were not just what they needed, it would be discarded. And this is what the world has done with Christ. But this Rock that was rejected, would become the cornerstone....the most important one.
You see, the cornerstone is the one between two walls; it is used to get perfect angles for the rest of the building. That's where they start and build from, and if they don't get it right, the whole building is wrong! The world has rejected this Rock which everyone must build their house upon, in order to withstand God's judgement:
 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
The world rejected Christ because He didn't come to them like they wanted Him to....the Jews wanted Him to be a conquering, avenging king, and instead He came as a suffering servant. The Greeks simply thought the whole idea of a God Who would become a man and die for the world was just foolishness. Today, many people reject Christ just because He declared that He was the only Way. Others because He demands lordship of their lives. For both of these folks, following Jesus is just too narrow a path, so they reject Him and refuse to follow. They'd rather have a god who submits to their will and gives them whatever they want. But without Christ -- no building, no life can stand.

As we wind up our week of study, do we find ourselves encouraged by the privileges and honors that we enjoy now, and that we will enjoy in heaven? Peter wrote this specifically as a "pep talk" for discouraged believers, and as we start a new year, it's good to remind ourselves of these privileges.
God thinks we are special:
The Lord your God is with you,    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Let's praise God and glorify Him for all He has done for us, and for what He will bless us with in the future!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Honored and privileged, continued


You probably guessed from the picture above that we are talking today about the privilege of offering sacrifices to God. You get an A+ and can skip class! No, not really....
Let's dig into this, OK?
Here's the verse:
...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)
Peter says that one of our special privileges is to be priests of God. Most of the peeps that would initially read his letter were Jewish Christians, since he was an apostle to the Jews. Calling them priests would have been really significant to them. Why? Well, in the Old Testament, priests came from the line of Levi, and more particularly from the family lineage of Aaron. They were chosen by God to pray for the people and to offer sacrifices for their sins.
In fact, anyone who tried to do their jobs without being a priest was judged by God. King Uzziah comes to mind (II Chronicles 26) and also King Saul (I Samuel 13). It's a good review to go back and check those! Anyway, the priesthood was a pretty special job.
There are an awful lot of similarities between Christians as priests and the priests of the Old Testament!
Let's look at some of them.....
First, Christians have been purified by the blood of Christ. The Old Testament priests were sprinkled by the blood of animals to symbolize that they were set apart and cleansed to serve God.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7)
Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (Leviticus 8:23)
As believers, we are called to offer prayers for the church and for the world, in the same way that Old Testament priests offered prayers on behalf of the people.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4)
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. (I Samuel 12:23)
Believers are anointed with power from the Holy Spirit. In much the same way, the Old Testament priests were anointed with oil and the Holy Spirit.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. (Leviticus 8:30a)
As Christians, we have access to God in a similar way to the Old Testament priests. But there is a HUGE difference! Back then, only the high priest could enter God's presence, and that only one time a year!
But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9:7)
We believers are called to offer sacrifices to God, just as the priests did. Ours are different, though, as they are "spiritual" sacrifices (we'll detail that momentarily).
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)
Our study has gotten lengthy today; let's briefly look at the spiritual sacrifices which we offer to God. We may come back and look at these again later in more detail.... I'll provide scripture references for each one.
Surrendering our bodies in service to God is an act of spiritual sacrifice and worship:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  (Romans 12:1)
Praise is a spiritual sacrifice to God, and should be a natural result of the joy that He gives us:
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
Righteous acts that we accomplish are gifts to God, and our giving is a spiritual sacrifice, too:
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)
Witnessing to unbelievers is a gift to Him:
Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:15-16)
Sacrificial love for other believers is a spiritual sacrifice:
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Even our heartfelt prayers are spiritual sacrifices to our Lord:
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." (Acts 10:4)
We've covered so much this week! It's hard to take it all in....take some time in prayer to consider what we have studied.....and then we should ask ourselves, what are the spiritual sacrifices that we can offer to God?
We are privileged to be able to offer them to Him.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Honored and privileged (I Peter 2:4-8)


We're looking this week at ways that believers are special. We are honored as Christians, and we have privileges that we may not spend a lot of time thinking about!
Last time, we talked about the privilege of continually, daily, coming to our Lord, whether in prayer, worship, or study.
Today, let's look back at our focus passage and zero in on verse 5:
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)
As believers, we are being compared to living stones that are being built into a house. To understand this, think again about Christ being the first living stone; He is the foundation of the house. Jewish Christians might have been puzzled by this from Peter. After all, they would be thinking about the temple, the Old Testament house of God, and that was made of dead stones. There was no life within them.
But in the New Testament, the new covenant with believers, God's temple is the living people of God. Let's look at a passage that is pretty familiar to all of us:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
Paul was chiding the Corinthians for sexual impurity, but the concept he lays out here is important. Here is another verse where Paul hammers home his point:
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel    after that time, declares the Lord.I will put my laws in their minds    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,    and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)
Instead of tablets of stone within the walls of the temple, God's new covenant meant that the laws would be within us. We will be His people, and we will be built into the house of God.
Is this getting any clearer? Or have I muddied the water? (Grin)

What a privilege to be the temple of God! To have His presence daily!
Let's look at some practical applications here.....
Because we are the temple of God, we need each other.
Oy vey, such a truth! How many times have I been stirred to repent or to rejoice because of what y'all have written, either in the comments, or in personal correspondence! You see, stones aren't of much use by themselves. Just like modern-day bricks. They are of little usefulness alone, one at a time. But when used alongside other bricks or stones, their usefulness is maximized. In the same way, we were not called to walk in the faith alone. We need one another. In another part of Corinthians, Paul compares the believers to parts of the body, and says we can't function well without each other! We can much more easily complete the mission that God has called us for, if we work together!

Also, because we are the temple of God, we should realize that the process of building is ongoing; it's not yet complete. Like new homes being constructed, we are in a continual process of building. Some folks say with a grin, "God's not finished with me yet!" And there is a truth there.....let's not get discouraged when we see sin or failure in the church. Let's not give up on ourselves when we see sin or failure in our own lives. Don't quit....don't give up. It's a process. We are being built into the temple of God.

I've heard an illustration of the unity of believers in geometric terms. Don't worry, I wasn't that good at math or geometry; I'm not going to go all professorish on you! But think about this: a triangle. Believers are on two of the corners, and Christ is at the peak. If we are working our way closer to Christ at the top, we are getting closer to one another, too. Folks who spend less time with God, will be the ones who find more to complain about, and more to be upset about. If we focus on getting closer to Christ, we will find more joy with the other members of the house of God. (Just sayin'.)

Another application is this -- because we are the temple of God, everything we do can be worship. This would have been a real stretch for Peter's believers who read this letter....they were accustomed to traveling to the temple to offer sacrifices to the Lord. But in the new covenant, we are the temple, and everything that we do can be done for His glory.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)
Lastly, because we are His temple, we need to be holy. Wow, we could camp here and study for quite a while. (Grin) In the Old Testament, everything in the temple was set apart as holy. Even the food, the curtains, the cups for drinking. Now that we are the house of God, we need to learn more about this concept. Here is what Paul told the Ephesians:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:16-17a)
Here I go again, getting nerdy about the words....Christ was already dwelling in their hearts, because they were believers. What is Paul talking about?  In the original language, there were two words for "dwell," and that is where the difference is. One talks about dwelling as a visitor, and the other means to dwell as a resident - to always be there.
Is Christ "at home" in us? Or does He feel like a visitor? What do I mean? I think in many believers' lives, and in some churches, Jesus may not feel at home, but feel like a visitor. Their lives aren't fully in His will; they are not within the Spirit's control and guidance. Christ is not consulted about their careers, their friendships, their courtships, nor their entertainment. He is not treated as the owner of the home, but as a visitor. Remember in Ephesians when Paul tells them not to "grieve the Holy Spirit"?  All of us can grieve the Spirit by our thoughts, our actions, and our words. So we need to seek to make Christ at home in our lives, by practicing holiness.

Are there things in our lives that we can think of that would grieve the Spirit? That would make Jesus feel uncomfortable, instead of feeling right at home?